Three separate boys find themselves in separate juvenile detention centers for reasons ranging from accidental to intentional. When Doug Healy, a former juvenile delinquent turned juvenile counselor, enters their lives, they get a second chance in a halfway house in New York City. During a scuffle one evening, Mr. Healy is knocked unconscious, eventually awakening with total amnesia. While their supervisor is in the hospital, the three boys must make good choices, follow all of the rules, and pray that no one discovers Healy's condition, or else they're all going back to juvie.
This book gripped the students' interest from the first page. They sympathized and got frustrated with the characters, they were surprised by the plot twists, they groaned and rejoiced as the storyline rolled along. I thought this was a terrific book for junior high students, because they lived alongside and empathized with these boys who were doing their best to make good choices. Through this book, I think the students vicariously learned of the consequences of bad decisions.
The pre-reading activities in this unit encourage the students to begin developing an understanding of the reality and consequences of judging others, the difference between being discerning and being judgmental,and the very real dilemma of when to give a person a second chance (or third or fourth). Each lesson contains a vocabulary matching activity as well as questions which assess the students' comprehension and ability to think more deeply about issues of justice, teamwork, and making good choices. Post-reading activities continue to build on the concepts of judging others and extending second chances.
There are 20 lessons in this unit. Most lessons cover two chapters.